Anime is attracting an ever-growing audience in the UK, with streaming services dramatically changing the TV landscape and opening anime up to new viewers.
Here are some of the best movies and TV series available to watch in the UK now.
Attack on Titan
Young hero Eren Yeager is determined to fight back against the giant Titans who murdered his mother and now threaten to destroy the human race. Attack on Titan started life as a manga series in 2009, and is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls to defend themselves against the giants who suddenly appeared 100 years ago and wiped out most of the human race. Now they are back for more.
The anime adaptation has been a huge success in Japan and internationally since it began in 2013, with a third season expected in April 2018.
Watch this if: You are into dystopian drama and post-apocalyptic worlds. You don’t mind a bit of violence and you want a plot that will keep you hooked.
How to watch: Attack on Titan is available on Netflix and also on Crunchyroll.
Spirited Away is one of Studio Ghibli’s most successful ever movies. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it tells the story of Chihiro, a ten-year-old girl who moves to a new neighbourhood and accidentally enters the spirit world. Her parents are transformed into pigs for eating a feast that wasn’t meant for them. The girl works to free herself and her parents and return to the human world, and on the way she has lots of adventures.
Watch this if: You want a fantasy adventure film with something deeper: contemplations on life, death, coming of age, loneliness and the importance of being kind. Suitable for adults and children.
How to watch: Sadly for UK viewers, Studio Ghibli has not exactly embraced the culture of streaming movies, with Spirited Away not even available on iTunes. The film is currently only available on DVD, as are other Ghibli films including My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky.
Japanese anime is finally going mainstream in the UK. What’s going on – and why now?
Yuri on Ice
Yuri on Ice (or “Yuri!!! on Ice” for fans of exclamation marks) is a sports anime series about figure skating. The series revolves around Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki and his idol (and later coach) Victor, as well as up-and-coming Russian Skater Yuri Plisetsky. Some have praised Yuri on Ice for breaking new ground with its depiction of a same-sex relationship and mental health issues, particularly in the sporting world.
The series launched last year with 12 episodes, and a feature film is currently in production. Yuri on Ice is critically acclaimed and has also attracted a huge fan base in Japan.
Watch this if: You enjoy a good romance, you want to see an LGBT storyline, you enjoy coming-of-age stories, or you just want to watch some stunning animated figure skating choreography.
How to watch: Sign up for a free account at specialised Japanese anime service Crunchyroll.
It is the year 2071. Humanity has colonised the solar system, leaving planet Earth behind, but this is a dangerous universe. We follow a ragtag team of bounty hunters (or “Cowboys”) tracking down outlaws in return for money. There’s mellow Spike, pragmatic (and robust) Jet Black, selfish femme fatale Faye Valentine, a genetically engineered Welsh Corgi and a computer kid Edward Wong. While on the surface it’s just an adventure series, as the series goes on we explore deeper philosophical themes of existentialism, ennui and loneliness.
Watch this if: Essentially a space Western, it would suit fans of Star Wars. It is also a good gateway series for people who haven’t watched much anime yet.
How to watch: 90s classic Cowboy Bebop is available on Netflix.
Your Name has been a box office sensation in Japan and has also attracted fans across the world. It starts off as a Freaky Friday-style body swap comedy – except that the two kids don’t even know each other, with a high school boy enjoying life in Tokyo and a high school girl living in a temple in rural Japan. But just when you think you have the measure of this film, it hits you with something much deeper. It is an emotional and beautiful film that will leave you reeling.
Watch this if: You want to see anime filmmaking at its finest, and you don’t mind being reduced to a sobbing heap.
How to watch: Your Name is available on DVD for £10.
Mob Psycho 100
Poor Shigeo Kageyama just wants a quiet life. This teenager is nicknamed “mob” which comes from the Japanese for ‘background character’, and he seems pretty inconspicuous, but beneath it all he has powerful psychic powers – and when his emotions reach 100 per cent he is in danger of unleashing the full extent of his powers. Mob decides to suppress his powers by keeping his emotions strictly under control, but trouble keeps coming after him.
Mob Psycho 100 started life as a Japanese webcomic in 2012 by the creator of the famous One Punch Man, and was released as an anime TV adaptation in 2016.
Watch this if: You enjoy a great, down-to-earth protagonist, and you want an anime with great visuals and a touch of comedy.
How to watch: Crunchyroll has access to all 12 episodes.
Gurren Lagann takes place in the future, where the Earth is ruled by the Spiral King who forces mankind to live in isolated underground villages. We meet two teenagers, Simon and Kamina, who wish to go to the surface. There they find other humans fighting against the Spiral King’s forces, and giant robots or “mechas”.
Watch this if: You enjoy straight-up sci fi, and post apocalyptic drama. You like watching the underdogs take on the powers-that-be.
How to watch: Gurren Lagann is available on Netflix.
In This Corner Of The World
Set in Hiroshima and nearby towns during the Second World War, this anime follows the story of young Suzu (a talented amateur artist) who is married off to a boy she hardly knows and must find her place in his family’s life. The war intrudes more and more into her world as 1945 and the atomic bomb looms closer and closer. It’s a gentle, moving and beautifully-drawn film.
Watch this if: You want to understand more about Japan, its history and its culture.
How to watch: As of July 2017, In This Corner of the World is showing in UK cinema chains including Odeon and the Everyman. It will then be available on DVD from October.